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'Hey Jo' boss voices fears over sex club label from press

Below are summaries of the latest complaints involving the regional press which have been resolved between the parties involved, with help from the Press Complaints Commission.

Liverpool Echo
Darren Lawrenson complained that an article about the tragic death of his daughter, Ellie Lawrenson, was inaccurate and misleading. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification:
“On September 12, we reported that Darren Lawrenson, whose five-year-old daughter Ellie was attacked and killed by her uncle’s pit bull dog at the home of her gran, Jackie Simpson, would never forgive Ms Simpson for Ellie’s tragic death. Mr Lawrenson has asked us to point out that the article stemmed from an interview we conducted with him in February. In addition – although we have a reporter’s note of the remark – he denies saying that ‘the dog was a loaded gun and Jackie pulled the trigger'”.

London Lite
David West, proprietor of Hey Jo nightclub and Abracadabra restaurant in Mayfair, complained that an article had inaccurately described Hey Jo as a “sex club” in the headline. In fact, he clarified that Abracadabra was a restaurant serving traditional and rare breeds of meat and Hey Jo was a state of the art nightclub. (Clause 1)
Resolution: The newspaper said that it had marked its archives with a note of the complainant’s concerns for the reference of any journalist in the future. The newspaper also published the following letter from the club. The complaint was resolved on this basis: Further to your article “QC Cherie fights Blair smoke ban” (July 07) which reported that Cherie Blair had been hired by the owner of Hey Jo nightclub in Mayfair to challenge the smoking ban, we would like to make clear that Hey Jo club and its sister restaurant Abracadabra are not sex clubs. In fact, they are cultivated and diverse retreats; with design features from the Royal College of Art through to VIP booths with antique swings. Harry Barnett, Executive, Hey Jo, 91 Jermyn Street, St James, London, SW1Y 6JT.

Dudley News
Malcolm Davis complained that a series of letters in the run-up to the local elections in Dudley in May 2007 – in which he lost his seat as a UKIP councillor – contained inaccurate and misleading information about him and that he had been denied an opportunity to reply. (Clauses 1 and 2).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant in addition to an editorial note of apology: In the run-up to the last local elections, certain allegations were made against me in the letters pages of the Dudley News. I would like to set the record straight since I was not afforded an opportunity to reply at the time. The claims concerned my affiliation to other political parties and the stance I took in respect of the application for a mosque and associated community centre on land off Hall Street, Dudley. I would like to make it clear that I stand for UKIP and I have never been a member of any other political group apart from the Liberal Democrats. I am chairman of UKIP in the Dudley Metropolitan Borough and have never held any executive position in any other party. References to me being a member of the Conservatives, Labour or the British National Party were misleading and untrue. I have always stood with the people of Dudley who opposed the mosque scheme and my position has never changed. The allegation that, as a member of the Central Area Committee in 2000, I agreed to the “land swap” deal with the Muslims of Dudley is untrue. In fact, I was the only member who refused to vote in its favour. At that time on the committee, there were 14 Labour councillors so I had little influence on the overall decision. At the Central Area Committee meeting just before the last elections, I challenged the other members over this. It was made clear at this public meeting that the committee had no powers to authorise anything but could only make a recommendation to full council. It was at full council that the ruling Labour group agreed the deal. I find it despicable that certain subversive political elements used the Dudley News website to post a bogus “apology” in my name over the mosque issue. Fortunately, the hoax was exposed and I am informed by the newspaper’s publishers that safeguards have been put in place to combat this sort of abuse. I would also like to point out that during my seven-year term as councillor for St James’ ward I devoted my time to looking after the needs of all vulnerable groups. I dealt with more than 4,000 individual cases and submitted petitions with over 40,000 names, including nearly all the 23,000 signatures I obtained against the mosque application which was eventually thrown out. The latest petition I have submitted contains 3,000 signatures on behalf of the staff, residents and families of Arcal Lodge which is facing closure. Editor’s note: We accept the points raised by Mr Davis and regret any misunderstanding.

Worcester News
Caroline Haynes, of Worcester, complained that an article which reported the sentencing of her neighbour, after he was found guilty of assault by beating, was inaccurate when it stated that officers were questioning the man about the complainant’s “drunk and disorderly behaviour”. This claim had been made in mitigation but, in fact, the charge against the complainant had been dismissed before trial and this had been mentioned a number of times during court proceedings which the newspaper had not reported. (Clause 1).
Resolution: The complaint was resolved when the newspaper – which confirmed that it had only attended the sentencing – wrote a private letter to the complainant acknowledging her position and apologising for the upset the report had caused. It also amended its internal records accordingly.

Clydebank Post
Noreen Zavaroni, of Clydebank, raised a number of concerns over the publication of an article which had inaccurately reported the cause of her five-year-old son David’s death. The complainant argued that the inaccuracy would have been avoided had greater effort been made to contact the family prior to publication. She was also concerned over the newspaper’s publication of her 16-year-old daughter Carla’s expressions of grief – taken from her website – in addition to the connection drawn in the article to incidents involving other members of the Zavaroni family who she felt were irrelevant to the tragic death of her son. (Clauses 1 and 5).
Resolution: The newspaper did not accept that its references to other members of the Zavaroni family or the inclusion of comments from a publicly accessible website breached the Code. However, the complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following apology and correction: In the Clydebank Post edition of Thursday April 26, we reported on the tragic death of David Zavaroni. We now accept that the information regarding the cause of David’s death was factually inaccurate. We would like to apologise fully for any distress our reporting may have caused the Zavaroni family. The Post has now re-evaluated its procedures regarding how information is obtained in cases of a sensitive nature such as this.

Although the complainant accepted the published apology as a resolution to her complaint with regard to the inaccuracy in the article, as a bereaved parent she remained concerned over the newspaper’s publication of her daughter’s expressions of sorrow and the references to the fame and notoriety of extended members of her family as she disputed their relevance to the death of her son.